A new forest in two weeks

March 01, 2014

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Casey Corkrey, with Austin Tomlinson at the wheel

The biggest chunk of the largest revegetation project in North Coast Land Conservancy’s history got under way on Thursday, Feb. 20, as floodwaters were receding from Circle Creek Habitat Reserve. It was a daunting prospect: 10,000 cedar, spruce and hemlock trees and 2,000 wetland plants to be planted as part of the floodplain restoration that began last summer with removal of the berm along the Necanicum River.

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Dean Stanovich

By the following Thursday—in only five days of planting—5,000 of those trees and hundreds more plants were in the ground. Kudos to what Doug Ray dubbed the Circle Creek Restoration Hotshot Crew, which at this pace should be wrapping up tree planting by the end of the next week and will move into preparing willow stakes for the March 22 Stewardship Day. Special thanks to Dean Stanovich, who’s been volunteering shoulder-to-shoulder with Doug and the rest of the professional planters: Max Broderick, Austin Tomlinson, Erin Conway, Casey Corkrey, and Regina Southworth. “Dean works like three people every time he comes out, which is pretty much every time there is a call for volunteers for anything river-related,” Doug says.

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Max Broderick with Austin

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Erin Conway

“You can see it from Highway 101. It’s very noticeable,” says Stewardship Director Melissa Reich. No elk protection has been erected around the newly planted trees; it’s time-consuming to install and maintain and impractical at this scale of afforestation, she says.  “We’re just hoping to overwhelm the elk, which has been a successful strategy in the past,” Melissa says. Elk have been nipping harmlessly at the tops of the spruces, she says, but so far they’ve left the cedars alone. “We’re a little bit worried about beavers eating our trees,” she adds, so the crew is planting most densely in areas where the riverbank is steep and uninviting to beavers.

lupine & yarrow 2-14_webThe revegetation project actually started early last fall, when the floodplain was seeded with an herbaceous seed mixture. The September flood moved that seed around but didn’t wash it away, as evidenced by the yarrow and lupine already emerging. “It’s going to be really pretty when they go to flower,” Melissa says. A different seed mix was sown in the swamp berm cuts; those plants are slower to germinate. Melissa has been watching eagerly for signs of life in the berm cuts—like watching a pot of water come to boil, she says—and last week was rewarded to see the first native water parsley plants emerging.

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Thanks to Neal Maine for these lovely photos
of the Circle Creek Restoration Hotshot Crew at work!

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